Do Entrepreneurship and Christianity Conflict?

by Brian Hamilton

Editor's Note:  We are grateful for the opportunity to share this space with other Christ following entrepreneurs that share the thoughts and reflections, and even struggles of their entrepreneurial journey.  Today's installment comes from Brian Hamilton, a successful entrepreneur from the Fintech industry.  As you read through his blog, we'd ask that you ask yourself whether you also see conflicts in motive in your own career, how you process being able to share "the reason for the Hope you have." 

For those of you not yet familiar with our podcast, we aim to tackle some of these issues (sharing our faith in the workplace, wrestling with motives, etc.).  Another point: if you have something that you believe that God has put on your heart to share with you, please send it in to us.  We can't publish all of the blogs we receive, but we're grateful for the opportunity to publish many. We're thankful for Brian, we're thankful for you, most importantly we're thankful to a God who allows us to discover Him, and honor and serve Him in our businesses and the marketplace.

By Brian Hamilton

Founder of Sageworks and Inmates to Entrepreneurs

I wanted to give some thought to the topic of entrepreneurship and Christianity since I don’t think some of the issues are straightforward. The first thing I would express is something about my personal journey, which I hope will be helpful.

Not very long ago, I did not make public pronouncements about my faith even though I recognize that the Bible is clear in some parts on our obligation as Christians to profess our Christianity to others. On this point, however, I believe there is also a Biblical stipulation that we should offer our faith largely when questioned about it. 1 Peter 3:15-16 shares, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…”

Regarding this scriptural reference, I sometimes worry that we as Christians are overbearing in our approach with other people, in that many of us drive people away from Christ rather towards Him. The people who have helped me most in my growth have led by quiet example. 

I suppose the other reason for my reticence on this issue is shame in knowing how far short I fall. Of course, I also recognize that we all fall short, which is exactly why Christ came to save us. So, hopefully, this will provide context for some of the content that follows. 

I have often wondered whether there is an inherent conflict between entrepreneurship and Christianity. I believe there is such conflict, and that we must be vigilant in recognizing this. To ignore it or not be aware of it would make us susceptible to mistakes and greater sins.

The reason I say this is because, while I believe that many entrepreneurs who are successful start out with a greater goal than to make money, we know that the pursuit of making a profit is definitely embedded in entrepreneurship. I don’t have to tell anyone who has run a business and who is a Christian how often we are faced with making difficult decisions that could potentially conflict with our faith. More dangerous and insidious, however, is what we pay attention to and focus on each day.

Many of the hyper successful entrepreneurs I know are extremely focused people, and they are, to use the cliché, almost monomaniacal in building their businesses. For this reason, if I were to give any advice at all, I would recommend to people that they attend church regularly or read the New Testament. This helps keep us grounded to what is important in life. I realize this is trivial and obvious, but I do think it is important. For myself, if I am not going to church or reading the Bible, I drift quickly towards defining my life around things like my professional goals.  

Like many things in the world, however, all of this is not able to be reduced simply and clearly. For example, while there is a built-in conflict between business goals (earthly goals) and faith (spiritual goals), I have found that following my faith can make me a better business person as well.

I know of no better business book than the Bible because the Bible, among other things, is an instruction manual for how to treat people. I have found that if you treat people like customers and employees well, the greatest paradox is that this will typically accrue back to you in business. Of course, our goal cannot be to do things as Christians in order to be more successful in business, but the reality is that things seem to work out better when you are living your business life in concert with God’s plan. Our goal is to act as Christ-like as possible.